THE GREAT Stream on Hulu. Before starting this new dramedy, it’s best to leave your historical knowledge at the door. “The Great” refers to Catherine the Great (Elle Fanning), the 18th-century empress who became one of Russia’s most notable leaders after overthrowing her husband, Emperor Peter III (Nicholas Hoult). Created by Tony McNamara, who co-wrote the equally irreverent historical film “The Favourite,” the show favors the comical and absurd over the factual. Writing in The New York Times, Eleanor Stanford said it’s “witty and self-aware, using a charismatic woman from the past as a conduit through which to explore more modern preoccupations.”
JOKER (2019) 8 p.m. on HBO; stream on HBO platforms. This thriller instantly became a conversation starter when it opened last year. The movie offers an origin story for the DC Comics villain, starring Joaquin Phoenix as Arthur Fleck, a troubled clown and failed comedian in 1980s Gotham City. An unidentified condition causes Arthur to erupt in laughter at uncomfortable moments, drawing hostile stares and vicious attacks. His life starts to unravel, leading to one indignity after another, until his patience runs out and he forms his deadly alter ego, the Joker. The movie polarized critics: Some found fault with the way it depicted mental illness and its wanton violence. Others argued that the Joker’s transformation was shallow and unconvincing. Still, the film was nominated for 11 Oscars: Phoenix won one, his first, for best actor, and the film’s score won another.
GO BACK TO CHINA (2020) 9 p.m. on Fuse. The filmmaker Emily Ting fictionalizes her real-life experiences in this family drama. Sasha Li (Anna Akana), an aspiring fashion designer in Los Angeles, has long been supported by her estranged father, Teddy (Richard Ng), a toy manufacturer in Shenzhen. But after she throws away most of her trust fund on glamorous outings, her father gives her an ultimatum that forces her to move to China for a year to work in his factory. While she is there, she faces culture shock and uncovers family secrets, but just as she finds her footing, a mishap at work lands her in hot water. Some critics found the story predictable, but most said the movie was an easy, entertaining watch.
GRADUATE TOGETHER: AMERICA HONORS THE HIGH SCHOOL CLASS OF 2020 8 p.m. on ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC. Not many seniors can say that former President Barack Obama spoke at their graduation ceremony. That will change Saturday after he gives the main commencement address during this one-hour special, devoted to millions of high school seniors whose graduation ceremonies were canceled because of the coronavirus crisis. “Graduate Together” features uplifting images, videos and messages from students, educators and families across the country. Celebrities like LeBron James, H.E.R. and the Jonas Brothers will also show their support. The virtual event will be available on streaming and social media platforms, including the Facebook App, Instagram and Snapchat.